fGIS - Toolbar Features

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  • Save

    Saves the current project and view. To save the project with a different name (leaving the original intact), use "Save As" from the Map Menu.

  • Print Simple Map

    After clicking Print/OK, fGIS will prompt you for a map title, subtitle and footer to print on the page. You can also specify the scale at which to print and select the fonts used in the map titles and footer. If you wish to print at a scale of eight inches per mile, designate a scale of 1:7920. A print preview is provided.

    Hint: Prior to using "Print Simple Map", use the Center Tool to choose a specific point for the map center. That way, if you make subsequent map adjustments, you can repeat the print job with similar boundaries.

    Note: Some printer drivers have been found to misalign image and vector layers when map titles/footers are included in a simple print job. If that happens, leave the fields blank.


    fGIS offers three additional print options:

    • The Send Map to Word command (available through the Map>Print sub-menu) will send an image of the view at a user specified resolution and scale to Microsoft® Word. The user is given options to add the map to an existing document (browse to the document) or to create a new document. A Wisconsin DNR MFL Map Header document file is included in the fGIS folder to use if needed. The "Crop" image tool in Word creates a mask around the image without changing the scale or distorting the image.  The "Crop" tool is available on the Picture toolbar in Word. (Use View>Toolbars in Word to turn on the Picture toolbar. Apply the Crop tool to the handles in the middle of the picture edges for best results. You might need to move the image back and forth to access the edges.) Also, fGIS adds the map scale (e.g. 1:7920) as text in Word for the user's reference. The Send Map to Word command has been tested on Word 97, 2002 and 2003 with satisfactory results.

    • A new dialog includes the previous Simple Map as well as a Template Map printing section, page orientation, and printer setup functions. A template example is included (print.tpl) for advanced users who want to design their own. The template files can be edited in Notepad. (Wisconsin DNR foresters will receive additional print template files from the GIS specialist.)

    • A fourth option through the Export Image tool will send the map to a technical illustration/page layout module called Diagram Designer. You can add headers, legends, annotations and non-spatial symbols from template palettes in the Diagram Designer module. 

  • Layer Add/Delete

Add or delete layers to the table of contents with these buttons. When you click the Add Layer button (+), a file browser opens. Navigate to to the folder where the data files are located. fGIS will list the files it is capable of opening. You can select more than on file at a time by holding down the Shift or Ctrl keys when you click on file names. The Delete Layer button (-) drops the layer from the table of contents (but does not change the files located on your hard drive).

The Add/Delete Layer functions do not work if you are in the Edit mode. (Stop editing first.)

  • Zoom and Position

    fGIS provides a number of tools to change the view.

    • The first, with a globe, will zoom to the full extent of all loaded layers. (If you want to zoom to the extent of a particular layer, use "Layer/Zoom to Layer" from the menu bar.

    • The next two (- and +) zoom out or in with incremental steps.

    • The open magnifier is a freeform zoom. Drag a box down and right to zoom in. Drag a box up and left to zoom out.

    • The Pan Tool (hand) is used to drag the view to a new position with the mouse.

    • The circle tool will re-center the view on any point that you left-click.

    • The Prior Extent tool will take you back to a previous view. Only the previous 10 extents are available. The Prior Extent history is created by the Zoom, Pan and Re-center tools (not from the bottom or right-side slider controls).

  • Attribute

    The Attribute Tool will display the attribute information (data dictionary) of any object you click in the view. The object will first flash red and yellow, then an attribute table will open. If the object is in the active layer, and if the Edit mode is on, the attribates for the selected object may be changed.

    Note: If you are using the Attribute Tool, but are unable to "hit" the object you want, move the target layer containing the object to a higher position in the layers list. Each area layer is somewhat like a pane of glass. You can't hit an object in a lower pane if an object in a higher pane is in the way.

If you are in the Edit mode (right-click the view and click "Start Editing"), you can use the Attribute Tool to change the data values associated with an object. After clicking on an object, a table with two columns similar to the following (with a data dictionary specific to the object) will open:

Right-click in the left column to change a field label or to add/delete a field. You can also add a new field by right-clicking below the last row. Left-click in the right column change an attribute value. Click OK when finished to save your changes.

  • Pick

The Pick Tool allows users to select shapes from the active layer in the legend. Selected shapes are highlighted in red. Multiple shapes can be selected by holding down the CTRL key. Selected shapes can be merged with the Union Selected Shapes command in the Edit menu.

  •  Measure

    Click points to forma a line or shape. Double-click to view the measurements. Measurements are reported in acres, feet, chains (1 chain = 66 feet) and statute miles.

    Note: fGIS will produce measurements only for data that is meter-based or feet-based. If you use data with Geographic coordinates (lat/lon coordinates, which are decimal-degree based), fGIS will not generate areas or distances with the measure tool or other shapefile creation or editing functions.

  • Export Image

    Drag a bounding box to export a geo-referenced image of any portion of the screen view. The Export Image Tool can be used, for example, to clip out an image of just one survey section.

    After dragging the bounding box, the following resolution output dialog will open.

    The default resolution of 1 will save the image at the screen resolution (which might result in a coarse picture when printed). Increasing the resolution will result in a larger file that may print better, depending on the results you are seeking. (A resolution of 2 is usually optimal for Wisconsin MFL maps, provided you zoom in to fill the view with the PLSS section first.)

    Images can be saved in TIF, PNG, BMP and JPG formats (with the associated world coordinate files). The PNG format is especially useful for maps that do not include raster images like aerial photos, keeping the file size relatively small.

When you use the Export Image Tool, an option will appear to open the image in Diagram Designer, a page layout module. You can learn more about using Diagram Designer here. [Note: If an image fails to open in Diagram Designer on the first try, repeat the image export a second time using the same file name as in the first go. The image will open in Diagram Designer on the second try. This is a known bug in fGIS, which will be corrected. Also, exported images must be saved in a PNG, BMP or JPG format if they are to be used in the Diagram Designer module.]

  • Split Shape

    The Split Shape Tool (a tomahawk symbol) divides a polygon or a line into smaller units by drawing a line through it. The Split Shapes Tool updates the area and perimeter/length of each subunit when a polygon or line is divided.

    Splitting a Polygon with a Line

    (Double-click to complete the procedure.)

    One of the easiest methods to digitize forest cover types (or any other land cover polygons) is to first outline an entire parcel, and then use the splitter tool to subdivide the whole into its parts.

    Occasionally, you might encounter a polygon that displays a warning that the shape cannot be split when you try to subdivide it. That is caused by some irregularity in the structure of the object's data. If that happens, use the Edit Points Tool to slightly adjust the object, and then try the Split Shapes Tool again.

    Warning! A precaution to keep in mind with the Split Shapes Tool: Do not try to follow the boundary of a shape. Since the Split Shapes Tool does not snap to other objects, trying to follow another boundary will result in "orphans" (polygon slivers that you'll need to delete and clean up later). Plan your technique so as to cleanly divide polygons, using more than one split if needed.

Hint: The line object splitter function is useful for cleaning up GPS tracks imported through the DNR Garmin Tool or other GPS programs. It can be used to snip out extraneous GPS track segments.

  • Edit Points/Select Tool

    Select the layer containing objects that you want to edit, then right click the view and choose "Start Editing". Click the Edit Points Tool, and then left-click the object you want to change (or select). Click near the center of the object to avoid changing a vertex on the first click. Move nodes or insert vertices with the Edit Points Tool.

    You can also use the Edit Points/Select Tool to delete a shape by first selecting it and then hitting "delete" on your keyboard.

    Additional Polygon Functions that can be used with the Edit Points/Select Tool are listed below.

    Note: It's often easiest to digitize a complex shape by first enclosing it in a simple polygon. Then, use the Edit Points Tool to pull the shape to conform with the object being digitized.

  • New Shape

    When you are in the Edit mode, click the New Shape Tool to insert another object in the active layer. To create a new shape layer, right-click the view and select the appropriate shape category from the menu that opens:

    You'll be given options to add feet, acres, meters and hectares to the shape's attribute table.

Notice that the Edit Menu includes a Polygon Functions option:

(Note: See the Polygon Editing Tutorial.)

These tools make it possible to digitize complex shapes in fGIS without producing "orphans" or voids between shapes. See the following examples (view sequence left to right):

The "Fix Polygon Winding" command is used to reorder the vertices of a polygon in a clockwise order. As a routine, you should generally draw polygons in a counter-clockwise direction (which causes the vertices to be numbered clockwise). When vertices are numbered clockwise, the polygon can be split or manipulated in many ways. If you forget, however, and need to fix the winding of the vertices, use the "Fix Polygon Winding" tool.

The "Delete Part" removes the selected polygon.

The "Add Part (or make hole)" tool is used to make islands, lakes and other donut holes within shapes. To make a hole, first choose to make a New Shape, then click "Polygon Functions>Add Part". You will immediately see the hole in an underlying polygon if you digitize in a clockwise direction (opposite the normal procedure, making the vertices wound [numbered] counter-clockwise). To fill the hole with a lake, the lake should be created in a separate layer by snapping to the edges of the hole.

Note the significant difference between using Add Part and the Drill or Subtract functions. With Add Part, the user must click that command first and then digitize the hole. If digitized clockwise, the hole appears immediately. If digitized counter-clockwise (the "normal" direction under other circumstances) clicking "Fix Polygon Winding" will make the hole appear.

With the other Polygon Functions, the user first digitizes the new overlapping polygon, then clicks a command to drill or subtract.



  • Traverse Tool

    Use the Traverse Tool  to specify the direction and distance of the next vertex in a line or polygon. Designate the direction in azimuth degrees or degrees-minutes-seconds, then enter the distance to the point in feet or meters. In some instances, you may need to move the Add Traverse Points dialog box so it doesn't block the view of the new point you want to add. The Traverse Tool in fGIS can plot most simple property deeds or layout a precise cruise course (which you could transfer to a Garmin GPS unit with the DNR Garmin Tool).


NOTE: Polygon areas in fGIS are calculated with math functions, but screen resolution and zoom scale will have an effect on the precision of vertex coordinates. The higher the screen resolution (1024x768 is better than 800x600) and the larger the scale (the further in you've zoomed), the more precise the coordinates of vertex points that the user creates will be (and the more accurate the area measurement generated by fGIS).

  • Undo/Redo

    Click undo to remove an incorrect vertex or to restore a deleted point when making or editing a shape. The Undo/Redo Tools do not work with any other function.

  • Snap

    When digitizing a shape, you can enable snap to objects in any vector layer by selecting the appropriate layer in the drop-down list. The vector layer names used in the map legend will be displayed as in this example:

    The snap layer can be changed at any time. For example, you might start by snapping to a road layer, then snap to a stream when the object you are digitizing approaches objects in the hydro layer. Note: fGIS only snaps to object vertices.


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